Solid State Drives, SSD's, Coming Soon To Computers Near You!
(Building Your Own Home Library)
The World Library Blog Newsletter
Volume 1, Number 23
Monday, August 15, 2011
by Michael S. Hart
Founder, Project Gutenberg,
Inventor of eBooks
Solid State Drives, SSD's, Coming Soon To Computers Near You!
(Part of our continuing series on building your own library on inexpensive high capacity drives.)
I have written several times about the pocket terabyte drives I like so much, and even about the 1.5T drives, I have three, three of each kind, and love them and use them a lot. I also have included reports of the various small flash drives I use in both the USB and SD formats.
At $100 a 1T drive is $.20 a gigabyte, 1,000 dimes = $100 and recently the price dropped to about $80 or $.08 per gig and I strongly recommend carrying at least one copy of your library in such drives as it makes it so much easier to look up quote references, do some extra reading or research, etc., and also to pick up extra eBooks from friends along the way as well as hand out some of your own to others.
In addition, I reported USB and SD flash drives dropping down to just under $2 per gig. . .so it's still 20-25 times prices for the pocket drives, and that pocket drives are still twice as much as the 1T desktop drives that are just under $50.
These, of course, a great for keeping your current reading on and your list of favorites you want to always have handy even when you might not have network access.
However, there is something new coming over the horizon in an entirely new affordable format: solid state drives.
These are basically large flash drives, but they are not only larger but operate faster, and are competitively prices in an even head to head comparison with USB and SD flash drives.
For the serious user there are several advantages:
1. They take hardly any power to run.
2. They have speeds up to an equivalent of 40,000 RPM, where
normal spinning drives tend to be from 5,000-10,000 RPM.
3. I should add that there are some arguments about failures
and failure rates, but that seems to be settling down and
the new SSD drives seem to have become very reliable.
4. By the way, as additional features from taking power in a
very small way, they don't get hot and also require small
power supplies, two things that help computer performance
a great deal in terms of both cost and weight.
Intel's X25M G2 is a 120 gigabyte solid state drive that will be down to $2 per gig any day now as prices go down. We also have 80G and 160G models, but the 120G seems to be the one in the limelight.
In case you haven't seen one of these, they look a lot like a very thick credit card. They come in two major form factors:
2.8" and 1.8" in length with SATA interfaces, and weigh in at a scant 50 to 100 grams, perhaps a little more for the larger models, or with cases and adaptors.
Mean time between failure is claimed to be 1.2 million hours, but it appears some of the problems have been firmware, not a hardware problem. Some people complained that Intel have not addressed all the firmware problems, features, etc., and some others seem to be perfectly happy.
As always, a lot of your level of satisfaction will be due to your own applications. Some of these have a harder time with large sequential file transfers than purely random access and a few other issue have popped up, but mostly in the minds and hearts only the geekiest testers. For normal applications of normal people, I am not sure too many people will notice much difference in performance due to other factors, but boot time IS faster with SSDs and you certainly might notice that if no other factors when you get one.
Some of my friends already swear by various SSD models in the areas where there are stacks and stacks of computers that are on UPS power supplies because they can keep the SSDs running, shutting down the larger more power consuming drives and thus at least keep major sites online even at diminished capacity, and thus bringing the whole system back up when power returns is all that much faster, and the world at least sees a system message and minimal performance while the power is out.
As mentioned at the end of the opening list power consumption is way, way, way down with the new SSD drives and in a system as we just mentioned, with many computers, cooling them would be much less of a problem, further reducing the noise levels, power consumption levels, fan failures, air conditioning, and all their attendant problems.
So far, most or all of the SSD drives are in the form factors mentioned above, but I presume kits are or will be available, so you can add these to various ports, particularly if a SATA port is externally available on your computer.
It will obviously be at least a year before you can try these for under $100, and you should also inquire about needing any extra adaptors, cables, etc. Desktop users will probably see most of what they need in their computers, but I presume some or most laptop, netbook, etc., users will have to spend money and hassle factor on such adaptors, so maybe SATA ports could be making a comeback on portable computers.
If you do use such adaptors, particularly through the USB 2.0 ports and such, you may see some slowdowns just bottlenecking in between your new SSD drive and the main computer bus, so I always recommend testing whatever installation at the stores, and/or reading up on such tests so you know what to expect.
As internal drives, these SSDs should prove to be very good-- but I worry a little about using them as external drives.
I have been assured by very reliable sources the one terabyte versions of these new SSD drives will be affordable in future models everyone can enjoy in just a very few years, and thus, your own personal eLibrary will become more and more portable in terms of carrying a million eBooks worth of information in a drive that has extremely low power and space requirements.
Hopefully USB 3.0 adaptors will be available that should show off these new drives to their best advantage. I've read some about various adaptors, but most seem to have the idea that a new case should be placed around the SSD, containing adaptor, drive, and the new connector, but this would seem to make the drives physically over twice as large, and I haven't seen any specs that say how fast the throughput is.
Right now the only thing I really see is, "CALL FOR PRICING,"
which usually means they don't really have them yet. . . .
Using SSD drives will increase battery life in every netbook, laptop, or other such device, and thus will create experience more similar to the longer battery lives of eReaders, iPads & other such devices, to the point where you could be likely to finish such a book as Alice In Wonderland without recharging.
This should be a very exciting product line to watch for this coming year or two, and, remember, you heard it here first!
In fact, as we close in on 100 shopping days to the holidays, the whole idea of giving someone an entire eLibrary becomes a more and more affordable option, particularly when prices are usually at their lowest. Why not spend a little time working on creating just such an eLibrary combining your favorites in with others' favorites and the great classics for affordable, but unforgettable gift giving.
Why not even throw in a World Public Library card?